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Facebook removes conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ pages as podcasts taken down

Three major global technology companies took action against American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones over the past two days, removing his digital content from their sites for having violated their hate speech policies.

Social media giant Facebook announced on Monday that it had taken down four video pages belonging to Jones for contravening its community standards while streaming player Spotify said that it had now removed all of Jones’ InfoWars podcast offerings.

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The news came one day after media news website BuzzFeed reported that Apple had removed the majority of Jones’ podcasts from its platforms. The removals were a noticeable example of enforcement action taken by technology companies to regulate offensive content in the digital realm.

Jones is a controversial radio and internet host who is accused of promoting fake news and conspiracy theories, such as disputing the mass school shooting in 2012 at Sandy Hook elementary school in the US.

Facebook ‘unpublishes’ Jones’ pages

In a statement posted online Monday, Facebook said it had removed four of Alex Jones’ video pages “for violating our hate speech and bullying policies.”

“We have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants,” the statement read.

The company also said that it had also suspended Jones’ personal profile for 30 days for his having posted the offensive content.

While Facebook acknowledged that criticism of Jones’ material often related to fake news, it said that this did not play in a role in the recent removals.

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Apple iTunes removes podcast libraries

Apple, in turn, confirmed to BuzzFeed news on Sunday that it had removed five out of six of the podcasts from Jones’ right-wing media platform InfoWars that had been available over the company’s iTunes and podcast apps.

The entire podcast libraries from Jones’ “War Room” and “The Alex Jones Show” have been taken down — rather than just select episodes. However, one InfoWars program remained available: “RealNews with David Knight.”

Like Facebook, Apple said it had decided to remove Jones’ podcasts because the content violated its hate speech guidelines, BuzzFeed reported.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed. “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

The news media outlet reported that Apple’s decision to remove Jones’ content would severely limit the audio programs’ reach.

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Alex Jones speaks into a microphone (Wikipedia/S.P.Anderson)

Alex Jones’ website Infowars has a following of millions

No more on Spotify

Meanwhile, Spotify said Monday that it had removed all of Jones’ InfoWars programs from its music and podcast streaming platform. Last week, it had removed just select programs.

“We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community,” a company spokesperson said. “Due to repeated violations of Spotify’s prohibited content policies, The Alex Jones Show has lost access to the Spotify platform.”

Online video provider YouTube also recently deleted content from Jones or from his InfoWars programs.

Jones founded Infowars in 1999, building a massive following. Among the many conspiracy theories he has put forward is that the US government was involved in the September 11 attacks.

cmb/ss (dpa, Reuters, AP)